Our history

We've been improving the lives of our farmers for more than 100 years. Innovation and co-operation are at the heart of what we do.

We've been setting the benchmark for dairy farming since the early 1900s. For the past 100 years, we've made breakthroughs in genetics, reproduction and automation. As a result New Zealand herds have some of the highest rates of genetic gain in the world. Our farmers enjoy a high level of insight into herd management due to their voluntary participation in herd improvement.

Take a look at some of our dairy farming innovations and breakthroughs.

Department of Agriculture.JPG

1909

Farmers organise first routine herd testing service, which is supervised by the Department of Agriculture.


1922

Waikato gets herd testing officers.


Calf marking

1927

Introduction of official calf identification service.



1934

Royal Commission study recommends herd testing council be formed to control all herd testing.

Progeny testing/sire survey begins.

1935

First artificial insemination trials begin on 44 Waikato herds.

1936

Herd Recording Council (Herd Improvement Council) forms to improve the standard of cattle in the dairy industry.

1937

Sire evaluations, based on progeny records, carried out for the first time.

1939

28 Herd Testing Associations amalgamate into six Herd Improvement Associations.

1941

NZ Dairy Board publishes first list of proven sires.

1947

First production studies of stock bred from artificial insemination.

1949

First commercial artificial insemination service begins in Waikato and Taranaki.

1950

Purchase of first artificial insemination bulls for proving.

Deep freeze

1951

Process deep frozen semen for the first time.

NZ Dairy Board establishes commercial artificial insemination centre at Newstead, Hamilton.

1954

Begin co-operative research on semen production and utilisation.

1959

Begin research on semen dilution at Newstead.

1961

Introduce Sire Proving Scheme.

Newstead develops full use of semen diluents.

Artificial insemination reaches 500,000 cows.

1963

Caprogen becomes new semen diluent.

1964

Record Traits Other than Production (TOP) in Sire Proving herds.

Store liquid semen at ambient temperature for first time.

Main frame

1967

Install IBM computer to record all LIC Associations' herd test records.

Use milk meters for the first time for herd testing, replacing test buckets.

Fully computerise herd test records.

1968

Artificial insemination reaches 1 million cows.

1969

Store deep frozen semen in liquid nitrogen for the first time.

1970

Introduce 'Estimated Genetic Value' for all bull proofs.

1974

Replace Sire Survey ratings with Breeding Index (BI).

Begin contract mating to breed bulls for Sire Proving Scheme.

1975

LIC Associations introduce 'do it yourself' artificial breeding.

Establish Somatic Cell Counting service for individual cows.

1976

Introduce self sample herd testing service – samples tested in six Regional testing laboratories.

1979

Introduce conformation indexes.

1980

Farm Production Division and the six LIC Associations develop national database.

Introduce yellow notebook.

1985

National Dairy Herd Database begins operating.

Introduce MINDA (Management Information for Dairy Animals) service.

1988

Introduce National Traits Other than Production (TOP).

Calculate Total Breeding Index.

Form LIC Corporation as a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZ Dairy Board. 

Six LIC Associations wind up.

Introduce protein testing to herd testing service.

Introduce world’s first Long-Last liquid (LLL) semen.

1991

Newstead campus produces 50 millionth dose of bovine semen.

Introduce DairyMAN, farm based PC software, built with Massey University.

1992

Inseminate two million cows with LIC semen in one season.

Macdonald Committee reviews herd testing and related matters. Finds in favour of LIC being owned and operated by farmers. Should be responsible for optimising genetic gain, owning and operating National Database. Herd testing should remain a regulated activity.

DNA verification

1994

Beginning of DNA parentage verification of all Sire Proving Scheme bulls.

1996

Introduce new Animal Evaluation to improve selection accuracy and rate of genetic gain.

Introduce Breeding Worth (BW)  for sires and cows, which supercedes Total Breeding Index (BI). 

For the first time genetic evaluations – Production Worth (PI), Lactation Worth (LI) and BW  – fully comparable for all breeds and crosses.

Introduce Enzootic Bovine Leucosis (EBL)  control scheme – the first example of a disease traceability system using herd test milk samples – and the Livestock Improvement National Database.

Date mate

1997

First use of herd test samples in national disease control.

Use DataMATE  – a handheld computer – to record inseminations for the first time.

1998

Introduce CowPAD, (electronic yellow notebook).

1999

Make semen available from a small team of unproven crossbred bulls to New Zealand dairy farmers for the first time.

Begin breeding scheme for short gestation length (SGL) bulls  (first contract matings).

Become one of the first to use marker assisted selection for milk production traits to pre-select bulls for the Sire Proving Scheme.

2000

Make KiwiCross (crossbred) semen available for the first time in New Zealand.

Progeny test KiwiCross sires in LIC's Sire Proving Scheme.

Supercede survival breeding values with longevity breeding values.

Publish calving difficulty breeding values for all artificial breeding sires.

National Milk Analysis Centre analyses 10 million milk samples.

Appoint first LIC representative in Australia.

Introduce sales of semen from SGL bulls.

2001

Conduct more than three million inseminations in one season.

Launch SGL progeny test programme.

Establish a joint venture in Ireland to promote and sell New Zealand grass-based genetics.

Publish Cow Fertility Breeding Values for all artificial breeding sires.

Use robotics at National Milk Analysis Centre.

Release MINDAlink to farmers.

Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 passes into law and LIC becomes a user owned co-operative

Dairy Industry (Herd Testing and New Zealand Dairy Core Database) Regulations 2001 come into force.

DataMate software includes control of inbreeding and single gene management.

Use of Liquid KiwiCross semen for progeny testing.

MINDA pro

2002

Release electronic herd management packages – MINDApro and M-NOTE.

Receive license to commercialise first two BoviQuest production gene discoveries – Optimum and Quantum.

Launch new Tru-Parent (parentage verification) DNA testing service.

Open Testlink Analysis network of laboratories (milk analysis, animal health and DNA) at Hillcrest, Hamilton.

Use new DataMate software to optimise rostering of Premier Sires bulls to reduce inbreeding alarms.

Protrack

2003

Launch Protrack Farm Automation Solutions.

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Launch Leptosure animal health programme, in conjunction with NZ Veterinary Association, to promote vaccination and prevent the spread of Leptosporosis.

Shareholders approve new dual share structure.

Launch of Deer Improvement subsidiary.

2004

List investment shares on Alternative Market of the New Zealand Exchange (NZAX).

Launch Customate electronic bull selection programme.

Complete Holstein-Friesian Strain Trial comparing 1970s New Zealand Holstein-Friesian genetics with current day and US Holstein-Friesian genetics.

Deer Improvement completes first artificial breeding deer mating season. 

Launch once-a-day milking breeding index to rank and breed animals specifically suited to this type of milking.

Name first KiwiCross bulls for Forward Pack Premier Sires team.

EZ Link

2005

Trial EZ Link herd testing option, featuring barcoded flasks and a handheld barcode reader.

Release team of SGL bulls to the market.

Launch Once-a-Day progeny test programme.

Develop and offer DNA parentage tests for deer and sheep commercially for the first time.

New Zealand’s EBL disease status achieves international standards of freedom, thanks to an eradication programme we manage. 

Animal Health laboratory is first New Zealand commercial lab to receive certification for disease testing animals destined for live export.

Zee tag

2006

GeneMark with Zee Tags, develops and releases tissue sampler – DNA Punch.

Launch Trace Solutions Beef – a software mob and animal recording programme based on MINDA – to the beef industry.

Introduce innovative DNA-based test for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

Genetic gain derived from our bull teams estimated to be worth $50 million, or $15 per cow.

2007

Purchase Australian engineering company, Northern Feed Systems.

5000 dairy farmers using MINDApro.

Launch MINDA for beef and deer industries.

Set new record, and in a world first, process and dispatch more than 100,000 straws of dairy cattle semen in a single day.

Purchase FarmKeeper farm mapping program.

Begin sexed semen technology trials.

Protrack draft

2008

Release ‘draft only’ Protrack farm automation option.

Launch DNA Proven semen.

Induct First KiwiCross bull, Scotts Northsea, into LIC Hall of Fame.

Induct First bull dam, Whinlea Kai Ebell, into the LIC Hall of Fame.

Receive approval for purpose-built collection facility for supply of semen to the EU.

Change name of LIC National Council to LIC Shareholder Council.

Remove compulsion for cooperative control shareholders to hold investment shares.

Introduce Voluntary Investment Scheme for shareholders and an Employee Share scheme for staff.

100 years herd testing

2009

Celebrate 100 years of herd testing.

First DNA Proven calf is born in New Zealand.

2010

Launch EZ Link EID.

Purchase a Waikato dairy farm to be centre of innovation.

Launch limited release of EZ Heat for rotary farm dairies.

Begin Long Last Liquid (LLL) sexed semen technology trial in Waikato.

Launch Reproductive Solutions Project to help improve reproductive performance for dairy farmers.

Celebrate billion dollar Sire Proving Scheme at Fieldays. 

MINDA milk

2011

Launch MINDA Milk  – web-based farm information product to provide electronic herd test results and analysis.

2012

Launch Howies Checkpoint to market – the biggest leap forward in dairy genetics for 40 years.

Launch MINDA Land & Feed Basic, a web-based pasture management tool.

Become accredited NAIT information provider.

Launch Protrack Drafter farm automation system.

Announce, with DairyNZ, change in management of dairy industry animal database.

Launch MINDA Weights, a new web-based tool to make monitoring young stock easier.

First polled Holstein Friesian, Poll Axe, joins bull team.

Sexed semen trial achieves near normal conception rates.

Launch '6 week challenge’ , an industry collaboration to improve reproductive performance of dairy herds.

Launch range of training modules for dairy farmer users of our products.

Multi-million dollar investment in genomic research enables discovery of a cause for small calves born in Holstein Friesian herds for several decades. All LIC bulls are screened for the genetic defect.

Launch calving app  for farmers to record calvings, as they happen.

2013

Add Webshop to LIC website, allowing farmers to order tags and other items online.

Sign a formal agreement with DairyNZ setting out the terms of the transfer of the Core Database from LIC and the licensing of LIC's Intellectual property to DairyNZ.

Launch MINDA Lookup app, allowing farmers to access information in their MINDA records from their smartphone.

Discover one cause (Fertility 1) of loss of calves through pregnancy.

2014

Purchase assets and business of Waikato-based Dairy Automation Limited (DAL). 

DNA parentage service achieves significant milestone of one million animals screened by the GeneMark laboratory.

Discover genetic variations (AGPAT6) that impact milk composition in dairy cows.

Launch MINDA Pasture app, allowing farmers to record pasture covers on their smartphone during their farm walk.

Protrack EZ Heat

Launch Protrack EZ Heat.

Breakthrough in short gestation breeding programme – two healthy Hereford calves born 30 days early, naturally.

Form strategic partnership with Figured, a cloud-based farm accounting software firm and Xero partner.

Purchase majority interest of our Brazilian genetics distributor, NZ Brasil Genetics Producao Animal Ltda., which becomes a joint venture entity named LIC NZBrasil.

Isolate a cow genetic mutation. Discover a variation in a Caribbean breed of cattle that provides tolerance to high temperatures. Paves the way to breed cattle that maintain high milk production in tropical conditions.

2015

Form LIC Automation with merger of farm automation and milking sensor businesses (Protrack and DAL).

Enter into a partnership with Dutch company Lely Group to accelerate sensor technology developments and increase global use on farms.

Launch MINDA app , which consolidates the four previously launched apps – Mating, Lookup, Calving and Pasture.

Discover genetic variations (Fertility 2, Fertility 3 and Fertility 4)  that can impact a cow’s ability to carry a calf to full term. Found in about 2% of Holstein-Friesian dairy cows and 1% of crossbreds. 

2016

Complete purchase of 75% of the Australian-based Beacon Heat Detectors Pty Ltd, which manufactures heat patches.

Announce collaboration agreement with DeLaval to develop an automated Body Condition Scoring (BCS) measurement system.

Launch MINDA LIVE at Fieldays. 

Team up with First Light Wagyu to offer dairy farmers the opportunity for an additional source of income from sought-after, value-added Wagyu beef.

2017

Team up with Fonterra to develop an online technology solution, called Agrigate , which allows farmers to view their operation in one place.

Sell Deer Improvement subsidiary business.

Announce joint breeding programme between LIC and Jersey NZ - Jersey Future.

LIC SPACE

Launch of innovative satellite technology for pasture management - SPACE™